Campaigning charity Shelter is back on the warpath against private landlords, criticising how much of the country’s temporary accommodation budget for the homeless is spent within the private rental sector.
Government figures show almost £1.2 billion has been spent providing temporary accommodation for homeless households between April 2019 and March 2020.
This has increased by nine per cent in the last year and 55 per cent in the last five years.
Of the total spent on temporary accommodation by councils in England last year, Shelter claims that 87 per cent of it went to private landlords, letting agents or companies.
The amount of money being paid to these private accommodation providers has increased 66 per cent in the last five years from £621m in 2014/15 to £1 billion in 2019/20.
Some 38 per cent of the money paid to private accommodation providers was spent on emergency B&Bs – a 73 per cent rise in five years.
“It is outrageous that almost £1.2 billion a year is spent on often shoddy and expensive temporary accommodation because of the lack of social homes. It’s a false economy for taxpayers’ money to be used to pay private landlords for grotty emergency B&Bs, which can be so terrible to live in that families end up deeply traumatised” claims Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter.
She then switches her attack to the shortage of social housing.
“The decades of failure to build social homes means too many people on lower incomes are stuck in unstable private rentals – increasing their chances of becoming homeless.
“This cycle of destitution persists when those who lose their homes turn to the council for help, because councils have so little social housing left that they can’t alleviate their homelessness for good. All they can do is pay over the odds for insecure temporary accommodation.
“If the government fails to act on this crisis, the economic chaos of the pandemic is only going to make what is already an awful situation worse, as even more people are forced into homelessness.”